What is Neurofeedback?
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a non-invasive form of biofeedback that guides the brain toward its healthy natural functioning.
Harnessing the brain’s inherent neuroplasticity (the ability to change and grow), neurofeedback can strengthen existing and healthy brain functioning, help the brain compensate for decreased and imbalanced functioning, enhance beneficial neural connectivity and improve overall flexibility. Many conditions we experience are due to difficulty regulating ourselves and our nervous systems. Neurofeedback helps train the brain at a neuronal level that leads to better regulation of the nervous system. In addition, the ability to self-regulate brain activity is associated with improved cognitive and emotional functioning and general well-being. A healthy brain then gives rise to a healthy mind and body.
Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback focused on the central nervous system and the brain. Before neurofeedback training sessions, the clinician conducts a thorough clinical assessment to determine suitable training protocols. During a neurofeedback session, sensors are placed on the scalp to monitor moment-to-moment brain wave activity (electroencephalography or EEG). These sensors are used to gather information and to present this information in real-time to an individual. During training sessions, patients receive real-time visual and auditory feedback about their brainwave activity as sensory data (sounds, images, or physical sensations), usually through what looks like a video game. The brain adjusts its brainwave patterns to continue receiving positive feedback by playing the game with the brain. This creates a feedback loop that enables individuals to see their brain functioning and learn to change and self-regulate their brain functioning.
Example of a real-time visual and audio
Benefits of Attuned Neurofeedback
The brain becomes better regulated through regular training sessions, which has cascading effects on the patient’s symptoms. Over time, positive changes are often observed in the patient’s emotional, psychological, cognitive, and behavioral functioning, leading to better mental health and quality of life.
Attuned neurofeedback recognizes that the practice of neurofeedback occurs in the context of a therapeutic relationship. The patient and practitioner work closely to explore ways that neurofeedback can improve the client’s life and functioning and closely identify and track symptom amelioration that reflects the shifts in the nervous system. As the brain learns to fire in a more regulated and flexible way, subtle and more apparent changes in the patient’s life occur that parallel these nervous system changes. Together the practitioner and patient track these changes and adapt the neurofeedback training accordingly.
Neurofeedback is used to address a wide range of presentations, including but not limited to the effects of Developmental Trauma, PTSD, Depression and Anxiety, ADD and ADHD, Learning Issues, Sleep and Health concerns, Peak Performance Training, and to enhance meditation practices.
"Through training the brain to seek its own stability, we can ease the terrible sequelae to early childhood neglect and abuse, regardless of the diagnosis given."
- Sebern F. Fisher
Last week I took a webinar on Attuned Psychoeducation taught by Ellen Shaw Smith. I understood what she was teaching from an experiential perspective. Here are a few things I learned about myself and attuned psychoeducation.
I’ve worked with four different providers, four different neurofeedback approaches and three different neurofeedback systems. Until I took Ellen’s course on Attuned Psychoeducation, it’s been hard for me to explain what is different about my relationship with my current provider and the psychoeducation he uses with me that has made an important difference in my brain training, self-development, and psychotherapy, Ellen’s course put words to my experiences. I now understand what those differences are and why they matter. The neurofeedback outcomes I enjoy today are the result of attuned neurofeedback and attuned psychoeducation while working with a skilled trauma therapist.
Attuned psychoeducation goes way beyond informing. It’s not a symptom remediation model. It’s a whole person model. It’s about embodied conversations. These conversations sometimes use metaphor. It’s about finding right brain and left brain ways to talk to people about their neurofeedback experiences. For me, it’s very different from explaining a brain map to me although understanding a brain map is helpful for some people.
When my provider uses metaphor to explain something to me, I feel it in my body. I absorb what he says. It becomes part of me and it stays with me when the session is over. Every time we meet, he treats me as a whole person in a relational way. He has a ‘knowing’ about how to be with me and how to talk to me. I now understand in a deeper way why attuned neurofeedback and attuned psychoeducation was the neurofeedback approach I needed especially because neglect is part of my history. I have come into existence. I deserve to live a fulfilling life. I’m moving toward peace.
Debbie Asplen Ingraham